The Oasis City of Al Ain is the UAE’s historical centre and an easy day trip or weekender from the big cities of Dubai and Abu Dubai.
You can read more about all the fabulous fun family activities on offer in Al Ain and the historic sites and drives over on this page
Driving to Al Ain from Dubai or Abu Dhabi
Al Ain sits 160km south of Dubai and 160km southeast of Abu Dhabi on the Oman Border (hence why many people use Al Ain as a day trip when doing Visa border runs!).
Al Ain is in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, but with all COVID border restrictions removed, an easy day trip from either city (just be mindful, COVID guidelines, including the use of Al Hosn App, will apply when you get to Al Ain).
Private vehicle to Al Ain
The easiest way to get to Al Ain is in a private motor vehicle.
Want to hire a car? We recommend you look on discovercars.com to compare prices between rental car providers in the UAE.
The freeways are FAST (up to 160km/hr speed limit on the Abu Dhabi/Al Ain Hwy), and although a quite straightforward drive, not something we would recommend to newcomers to the country unless you have a lot of driving experience.
For visitors, if you are not a confident driver, or unfamiliar with driving on the right side of the road – get a driver and guide (more below!).
Residents – if you can handle the 8-lane Sheikh Zayed Freeway at 8am, you will be OK!!
Do note, despite the high speeds on the highway, the Al Ain roads are also very susceptible to FOG which can add to the danger level for unsuspecting drivers – you can read more about UAE weather conditions here.
A taxi to Al Ain, depending on where you set off from costs under 300AED from either Dubai or Abu Dhabi.
The journey from Abu Dhabi takes a little over one hour if you drive at the maximum speed limit.
From Dubai to Al Ain it takes more like 1 hour and 35 minutes as you have a little more traffic to contend with on leaving Dubai.
Tour Guide and Driver
There are surprisingly few tour operators offering services to Al Ain despite its rich history and unique geographic features, but you can try these options with a reputable tour intermediary Get Your Guide:
Get Transfer or Ride Share
Another option to consider is a private driving service, such as “Get Transfer”.
This is not the same as a full tour; however, you can use a tool like Get Transfer to get quotes from multiple private drivers for your proposed journey. You can ask to book a driver for a full day or just have the driver drop you point to point. Unlike a taxi, your price will then be locked in.
In preference to Uber or Careem, your drivers are bidding for your custom so the price is likely to be much more competitive. Careem and Uber are, of course, your other option though drivers may not be too keen to drive the longer distance.
Bus from Dubai to Al Ain
A public bus runs from Al Ghubaiba bus station (Deira – Green Line Metro) in Dubai to Al Ain.
The E201 (suspended for a couple of years over COVID but now back in service), runs every 30 minutes and also stops at:
- Al Jafiliya Metro Station – north
- Wasl Club 1
- Emirates NBD – Nad Al Sheba
- Marmoom Dairy Farm 1
- Al Faqa station 1
- UAE University Mohammed bin Khalifa Street 1
- City Petrol Station 1, and
- Sheikha Salama Mosque 1
- Terminates at Al Ain Central Bus Station.
The bus costs 25AED one-way.
NB this service is now fully operational again after being suspended due to COVID.
Bus from Abu Dhabi to Al Ain
If you are coming from Abu Dhabi, the X90 from Abu Dhabi Central Bus Station to Al Ain Central Bus Station runs every 45 minutes – you can find the Department of Transport intercity bus timetable here.
Once you are in Al Ain, the main attractions are quite spread out.
You are within walking distance of the Al Ain Oasis, the Al Ain Palace Museum, and Al Haili Fort but for other attractions, you will still need a taxi once you arrive in Al Ain.
Al Ain Airport
Al Ain does have an international airport (AAN), albeit small, only servicing three airlines to India, Pakistan & Egypt. You cannot fly from Abu Dhabi or Dubai to Al Ain.
You can get a taxi to/from the airport to town, 18kms away.
Staying in Al Ain
It is manageable to see many of Al Ain’s highlights in a day, but we recommend staying for at least a 2-day weekend, largely because many of the highlights you want to see open late in the day.
Our top recommended family accommodation is:
- Al Ain Rotana – central and family-orientated
- Danat Al Ain Resort – best for a resort setting
- Aloft Al Ain – Stylish new hotel next to Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium
Staying for a whole weekend, we recommend you try one of these family-friendly resort winners!
Further Reading on the UAE
Before you go, check out these guides to family fun and visitor information for the United Arab Emirates.
- Best time to visit the UAE
- What to wear when visiting Abu Dhabi & the UAE
- Ultimate outdoor winter weekend guide to the UAE
- The Most Scenic Road Trips in the UAE
- The UAE’s top eco-tourism hotspots
- 12 Cultural Attractions in Abu Dhabi emirate you mustn’t miss
- 40+ Things to do for Free in Abu Dhabi
- Facts for first-timers to Abu Dhabi
- How to explore the eastern Emirate of Fujairah